The litany of challenges to the legal profession posed by technological and economic "disruption" is all too familiar to those feeling the impact. It includes stagnant or falling incomes among those with consumer-facing practices, reluctance of consumers to retain counsel, and new tech-empowered players reshaping legal services delivery. It has created an urgent need for law schools to better train students in non-legal concepts like marketing and for the profession to better understand its clientele.
The changes are so ubiquitous and far-reaching that lawyers are struggling to understand them, let alone to adapt. "There's kind of a broad unease in the profession based on the idea that change is happening, there are new economic strains, there are new threats from technology and new market entrants, and following all those trends is a time-consuming activity," says Mark Marquardt, executive director of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois.
With that in mind, the ISBA Task Force on the Future of Legal Services has released a report detailing the field's challenges and remedies that should be brought to bear, as well as the role the bar association itself can play in doing so. "The report was designed to take a look at the broad range of threats and opportunities facing the profession and provide a broad summary, and help people put their concerns into context," says Marquardt, a task force member.